Welcome to the Project on Social Innovation: Doing More with Less
Welcome to the Project on Social Innovation, an online hub for social innovation from the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard Kennedy School.
As communities across the United States grapple with fiscal crisis—facing spiraling deficits, dangerous levels of debt and the worst economic recession in some 70 years—Americans understand that all levels of their government must take action. Calls are growing louder for the cost-cutting and financial restraint within government that so many families have had to practice at home.
At the same time, families are experiencing poverty and accessing our safety net programs at unprecedented levels. For this reason we must find new ways to do more with less. This starts with making tough choices about public spending. It also means seeking out promising public and private sector innovations to help limited resources go further in addressing our most pressing needs.
According to a Pew Research Center poll in early 2011, however, even while Americans increasingly recognize the need to halt increases in spending, many remain reluctant to embrace specific cuts. There is still not one area of domestic federal spending, from education to veterans benefits to health care to public safety, that more Americans, when pressed, want to decrease more than they want to increase.
This current landscape makes it even more difficult for innovators, and the elected officials on whom they rely, to repurpose spending on social services and entitlements alike. Counter-tides of organized opposition from those who have the most to lose are stronger than ever.
For anyone courageous enough to seek to drive major change in the face of large scale and seemingly insurmountable political hurdles like those faced by U.S. government officials today, we offer below some tangible lessons from the world of social innovation.
In this spirit of austerity, we view the Ash Center’s Project on Social Innovation as a resource on the technical, programmatic and policy innovations. But also, perhaps more importantly, it should be a resource on the strategies and tactics needed to develop and grow those new ideas that work but face an uphill climb.
While it features best practices, tool kits and ideas captured by the Harvard Kennedy School, you the practicing innovator will be this site’s most valuable source. We envision the Project as something that will be built by you and a growing community of people who identify themselves as innovators.
We hope you will use it as your own laboratory–to create, find and share solutions in your communities and with fellow citizens across the country.